Fragrant and lovely, lavender is great fresh in a bouquet or in a sweet-smelling satchel. While lavender is a hardy perennial plant and fairly easy to grow, there are a few tips to consider when it’s time to harvest it.
One of the best parts of summer is when the lavender is in full bloom. Not only is it pretty to look at but its fragrance has an instant, calming effect. Around mid-June start monitoring your lavender for signs, it is starting to bloom.
When to harvest lavender? The harvesting period for lavender can really range in time, depending on where you live. While the first season will take more effort, once you understand the rhythms of your plant, it will be a lot easier to know when it is ready the following year.
Depending on your purposes, you want at least half the buds on your lavender stems to be open. Don’t harvest your lavender if all you see are buds as they won’t open fully once dried. Use sharp scissors to cut your lavender stems in the morning.
Leave a long stem but cut about 2 inches up from the woody part of the plant. Gather your lavender into bundles and then store it in a cool, dry place. It takes about a month for lavender to fully dry.
After this, you can make dried flower arrangements, create aromatic sachets, or even use lavender in your baking. Just make sure to rinse your fresh lavender before drying it, if you plan on using it in baking later on.
How do you know when your lavender is ready to harvest?
Lavender is ready to be harvested in the summer but this is quite a wide time frame. The key is to closely monitor your lavender so that you can harvest it at just the right time.
Lavender is generally planted in the spring but if it is a smaller plant, you might not be able to harvest it until the following year. Furthermore, lavender should be pruned in the spring and then you will want to wait until the stems are fully established.
In late June or early July, depending on your location and climate, your lavender will show signs of being ready to harvest. There should be green buds along the stems.
It’s important to note that there are many different varieties of lavender so they will all look slightly different.
The green buds that grow along the stem will slowly change colors, going from green to a greenish-blue color, before changing to the color of lavender you have, which could be purple, blue, pink, or even white.
Even though these buds are on the same plant, they will be ready at different times. You want to take care to clip individual stems instead of large bunches of the plants.
Lavender stems that have just buds on them are not ready to be harvested. The flowers have not come out yet and they won’t after they have been cut.
Instead, clip stems where the buds have opened into flowers. If some stems have flowers that have already bloomed and now have dried buds on their tips, this is ok and you can still harvest them.
Reasons for harvesting lavender
Before you actually harvest lavender, you should consider what your purpose for it is. This will determine in what stage of bloom you should pick it.
If you want to transform your lavender plant into an essential oil, you should harvest your lavender when 50 to 100% of the buds are blooming.
If you want to use dried lavender for potpourri or fragrant sachets, you should harvest your lavender when 25 to 50% of the buds are blooming.
If you want to use lavender in your baking, you should harvest your lavender when about 50% of the buds are blooming.
How to harvest lavender?
The hardest steps in harvesting lavender are now complete. You’ve monitored your plant and know what your want to use it for. Now comes the part where you actually cut it.
Start by using sharp scissors or small pruning shears. Find the sweet spot on your plant. This will allow you to have long lavender stems but it still needs to be above the woody part of the plant.
If you cut into the woody part, you will stunt the overall growth of the lavender the following year. Aim to cut about 2 inches above where the woody part ends.
It’s best to harvest bundles of lavender. For best-storing practices, tie a bunch up with a rubber band.
A bunch of lavender is ideally 50 to 100 stalks. Young plants will only be able to produce one or two bunches but if you have a more established plant, you can actually get up to six or eight bunches at a time.
If you love lavender but don’t have the room for plants, or have young plants, you can always consider visiting a lavender farm. While you will have to pay for the cuttings, it will provide you a source of this delightful plant that you can enjoy for the upcoming year.
When it comes to harvesting lavender, the final tip is that it should be done in the early hours of the morning. If you harvest too late in the day, your plant will be too dry. Furthermore, lavender has a higher oil concentration earlier in the day.
Go out to your garden in the morning, preferably when the morning dew is still on the leaves. This will give you the freshest, best-smelling lavender.
Lavender is edible and many people use it for cooking purposes. While you don’t have to rinse lavender if you simply plan on drying it, you will need to rinse it for cooking.
Take your lavender bunches and run them under cool water. This will remove any dirt as well as small bugs. Just be careful as lavender buds can be quite delicate.
After you rinse your lavender, place it flat on a paper towel to dry. You can then use it for your baking delicacies.
For cooking, you can either use it fresh from the garden or you can dry it and store it for up to a year for your convenience.
How to dry lavender?
Now that you have your bundles of lavender, it’s time to dry it. Dried lavender can be used for a lot of different purposes, so it’s a great place to start.
Hang your bunches of lavender upside down in a cool, dark place. Your garage or a storage room should be perfect.
Lavender takes about a month to fully dry so you want to be a bit patient. An alternative is to dry lavender in the sun, which will take only a few days to be fully done. Just don’t let it get wet outside, as this will ruin the whole process.
Once it is dry, it’s time to consider again your purpose for it. You can keep the dried stems whole, or you can separate the buds to make fragrant sachets.
Simply gently shake the lavender buds from the stems into a glass jar. You can then put a lid on the jar for future use.
What happens if you don’t harvest lavender?
You do not need to harvest lavender. The plant is a perennial, meaning it will continue to grow year after year.
While you don’t need to harvest the lavender, you do need to show your lavender some attention. Aim to prune it back once a year, in the spring.
If you don’t prune your lavender, the woody base of the plant will grow larger and will not look as attractive. Buds don’t grow from the woody base so you want to clip it back just above the woody growth.
How many times can you harvest lavender per year?
There are some types of lavender that grow continuously. For example, Spanish lavender provides you the ability to harvest it up to three times a year.
However, you can only harvest English lavender once a year, and it is one of the more common varieties. If you are looking to grow lavender especially for harvesting purposes, you will want to carefully select your varieties before planting.
Can you harvest lavender after it has bloomed?
Yes, you can harvest lavender after it has bloomed. In fact, even if have the stem has buds that are past the blooming stage, you can still harvest it.
However, if you want to harvest lavender for a bouquet, you will want to harvest it before all buds bloom. Lavender will last for a few days in water, so you can definitely create small bouquets for display around your home.
Lavender brings a sense of joy and calm. If you can place lavender around your home, you will instantly be transported to a more tranquil place.
You should harvest lavender in the summer; just pay attention to how many buds are in bloom, and store it in a cool, dry place for up to a month.